Thus far, 2015 has been a disastrous year for the US men’s national team. The failure to win the Gold Cup led to a failure to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup, losing to hated rival Mexico in the process. But with a new phase in the 2018 World Cup cycle beginning, there is a chance for the US to get their mojo working again and close an otherwise dismal year on a high note. It all starts in St. Louis against St. Vincent & the Grenadines with the first of (hopefully) 16 qualifiers.
The US roster was announced on Friday, and right off the bat there was a glaring omission of Clint Dempsey. Dempsey has been the US’s best player in 2015 with nine goals, but he is getting older and has had some injury issues this season.
The biggest surprise call up is that of New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga, who has been outstanding for the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer as well as with the US youth teams. Darlington Nagbe also receives his first call up, although once it was announced that his US citizenship issues had finally been resolved (Nagbe is Liberian-born and was granted citizenship in September), most people fully expected that he would be called up sooner rather than later.
Also on the roster are the usual cast of characters: Michael Bradley, Brad Guzan, Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron and Gyasi Zardes. Fabian Johnson is also back in the team after he was sent home before the US’s last game against Costa Rica after controversy surrounding an injury suffered during the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico.
St. Vincent & the Grenadines comes into this World Cup qualifying group having performed well their first two rounds, knocking out Guyana and Aruba. The country has lost only one game so far this calendar year and defeated Antigua & Barbuda 2-1 in a friendly last week. Their roster features a pair of forwards who play for Seattle Sounders 2, Myron Samuel and Oalex Anderson, both of whom are capable of finding the back of the net. Samuel has 14 goals in 42 caps while Anderson has eight in 15.
- The US, which had been very dominant at home, has now won only two of its last eight home games.
- This will be the third US team Matt Miazga will play for this year, having played at the U-20 World Cup and with the U-23 team during Olympic qualifying.
- 13 of the 23 players on this roster have appeared in at least one World Cup Qualifier for the US.
- 17 of the 23 players on this roster are under the age of 30, which seems to be in line with Jurgen Klinsmann’s goal of developing younger talent.
- The US women’s national team also played in St. Louis this year in front of a crowd of 35,817.